New Riff Distillery

I am in Cincinnati for meetings and our meeting host arranges a couple tours for local experiences. I choose a tour of the New Riff Distillery in Newport, KY.

It is interesting to hear about making whiskey. The distillery’s name has musical inspiration to indicate their new spin on the old song of making Kentucky bourbon.

We see how they grind up corn (from Indiana of course), barley and rye to make the mash that will be fermented and distilled.

They use water from their well to make the mash in large vats.

Then begins the fermenting process. We stick our fingers in to taste!

Our tour guide looses me at the distillation process as he shows us the tower where this magical step takes place. It’s OK – I was not planning to try this at home!

Earlier in the tour, someone asked when they opened which was a few years ago. As we continue through the tour and hear about the barrel aging process, I do the math and realize that we won’t be tasting their bourbon today. We are given samples of spirits and gin. Interesting!

We should all try to enjoy local experiences when on business travel. Cheers!

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San Antonio

Every year since I’ve shared a “new thing” in my 50’s, I’ve shared a girl’s weekend. This year took me to another new city, San Antonio, Texas. We had a very fun long weekend of walking the River Walk, shopping and eating amazing food. Our days were mostly cloudy and sometimes we coped with drizzle but the weather did not slow us down!

We stayed at a lovely hotel, the Hotel Valencia along the River Walk. We had an arrival lunch at Acenar and toured the Alamo.

We did some shopping and picked up some San Antonio spices. Later we enjoyed dinner at Paesano’s and saw fun light displays floating on the River.

During our first full day in the city, we shop for souvenir jewelry at El Mercado Market and have lunch at Mi Tierra. Then we make some additional purchases at the boutique shops at La Vallita. We enjoy Argentinian food at the hotel restaurant, Dorrego’s. The next day is Saturday so we walk to the Pearl and browse the Farmer’s Market and boutique shops. We return to the River Walk for lunch at Waxy O’Connor’s Pub. There are so many fun restaurant choices and we eat well. We have a wonderful steak dinner at Range. I rarely eat beef but I do enjoy the lean delicious coulotte cut of beef and the cotton candy dessert.

It is so important that we find time to reconnect with our dearest friends. What are your favorite spots for a getaway weekend?

Tea Blending Experience

Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Tea is my drink of choice and I’m fairly knowledgeable about various teas and their health benefits. Honestly, I’ve become a bit of a snob about my tea and definitely prefer brewing loose tea over using purchased teabags.

A new tea shop recently opened in our neighborhood and I’ve been intrigued by their tea blending classes. I am always able to talk myself out of taking the time or money to treat myself to this, however. So I am pleased when a staff member gets me a gift certificate for the tea blending experience for Christmas. I get to try another “new thing”.

It takes about 6 weeks to organize this event on my calendar but I finally arrive at my tea blending class. We hear some history of tea and the health benefits of the various ingredients on our table to blend with our tea.

We have scales to measure 1 ounce of a tea base: black, green or green rooibos. Then we can add various ingredients and taste the tea until we have a blend that is our “cup of tea”.

The class provides for two 2-ounce bags of our blended tea creation. There are so many intriguing ingredients to blend with the tea bases. There are cards on each ingredient that list health benefits and suggest pairings. Available ingredients include: chamomile, hibiscus, lavender, rose petals, safflower, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, allspice, star anise, cocoa nibs, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and rainbow peppercorns. There is also bee pollen, licorice root and stevia for natural sweeteners.

I make a green rooibos blend with cocoa nibs and cinnamon chips and name it Mexican Green Rooibos. My green tea blend is blended with lavender, rose petals and cardamom and I name this blend Floral Green. I think they are both delicious!

What drink is your proverbial “cup of tea”?

Winterlights at Newfields

We did a “new thing” during the holiday season by attending Winterlights at Newfields, the Indianapolis art museum.

Winterlights is impressive from the moment we first walk in the museum. The guide points out that we should look up and even the entrance atrium is decorated for the season.

The event is even more impressive from the moment we walk outside and see the bright and festive lights.

We continue walking along the path to Oldfields, the Eli Lilly mansion. The light display on the lawn is a highlight of the event, these lights are choreographed to the Nutcracker Suite. Even in the cold, it is entertaining to stand a while and watch the lights change to music.

We tour the interior of the Lilly mansion which is attractively decorated for the holidays. Then we continue browsing the grounds and enjoying the light displays. Another highlight is a tree decorated with kiddie swimming pools and other play toys.

So creative! And what is not to like about a pretty tree in my favorite color? Maybe this is a new tradition?

Kids Move Back Home

I actually still did “new things” in 2017 – I just didn’t share. The year started with an unexpected “new thing” when our college “senior” moved back home in January. Much of the year was spent getting him back on track and this took some emotional energy and often had me questioning myself.

Now it is 2018 and although we are not completely back on track, we are more stable and moving forward. Stay tuned for posts of new events and recipes with new ingredients.

Happy New Year! What are your goals?

Moroccan Spice Blend

I am intrigued by this recipe from Rachael Ray for Moroccan Spice Blend and decide to make it my next “new thing”.  I have all the ingredients in my pantry.  (If you look closely, you’ll see a 2008 expiration date on one spice jar.  I refill my jars with herbs bought in bulk at Good Earth natural foods so my spices are not expired!)

  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground Turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ginger
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne

 


You simply combine the ingredients and store in a container with a sealed lid.


My first experiment with the spice blend is Balsamic-roasted pork tenderloin, one of the most saved recipes on allrecipes.com.  I put equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a measuring cup and add 2 tablespoons spice blend.

Next I put the pork in a Ziploc bag and added the marinade mixture.  Marinate the pork 2 hours to overnight.  When you are  ready to cook the pork, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Put the pork in a 9×13 glass dish and pour in the marinade.


Roast, basting every 15 minutes until an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees, about 1 hour for pork tenderloin, longer for a larger pork loin.  


The spice blend provides lovely flavors.  Enjoy!

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Chicken and Red Lentil Soup 

I love our local natural food store, Good Earth.  I’ve found a lot of my “new things” by browsing their shelves, nooks and crannies. In the bulk section, I noticed red lentils when refreshing my supplies of dried beans and rice.  Consequently, I’ve been looking for a simple recipe using red lentils while looking like something my family would enjoy eating.

I found this recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine and it is a keeper

 Chicken and red lentil soup


First, you cook the onion, garlic and ginger in oil.  Then you stir in the lentils, stock and water.  Bring to a boil.  

Add the chicken and cook 5 to 7 minutes.  

Transfer the chicken to a plate.  Let cool and chop into bite-sized pieces.  

Stir the coconut milk, spices and chard into the soup and season.  Cook about 5 minutes until the flavors meld.  

Stir in the chicken.  Enjoy!